Open Thread: Who Won the New Hampshire GOP Debate?

Last night was the second GOP debate, this time hosted by CNN and including candidates Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul.

From Bachmann officially announcing her intentions to run for president, to Romney asking why Obama never called him to discuss the pitfalls of a healthcare mandate, the debate covered a broad range of issues yesterday.

Check out a video and analysis of the debate after the break, and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

The seven GOP presidential candidates hit on several hot button issues during the CNN debate last night.

Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst for the Washington Examiner, breaks down his immediate reactions to each candidate:

Mitt Romney. [...] Overall Romney showed a clear sense of command and directed well-aimed attacks at Barack Obama and his administration. He was well prepared for the format and did better than I thought.

Michele Bachmann. The rap against her is that she is inspirational but sometimes make statements she cannot defend. I don’t think she did that in this debate. On the contrary, she was well prepared with specifics. She defended the tea parties as part of the three-legged stool of national security, cultural conservative and free market economic conservatives [...]

Tim Pawlenty. I think he faltered on the Romneycare mandate issue. I was surprised that he seemed on the defensive and was unwilling to go hard against Romney on the single issue on which he is most vulnerable. [...]

Rick Santorum. He was solid in giving answers that comport with his 16-year record in Congress and his major concerns, whether or not they advance his cause in this contest. [...]

Newt Gingrich. This is not a format he is used to and the time limits don’t play to his strengths. His answer on space policy was intellectually serious and genuinely interesting but probably went over the heads of most viewers. [...]

Herman Cain. Charming, as usual, and generous to the others on the stage; alternatively illuminating in his candor and seemingly—on purpose?—confused in some of his responses. [...]

Ron Paul. He is Ron Paul and he did not fail to disappoint his enthusiasts. Others? I suspect they were confused by some of his answers on monetary policy and the like. I found him more charming than in the past.

Of course, the playing field could still entirely change if Sarah Palin decides to enter the race. Who do you think won the debate last night, and what are your thoughts on Sarah Palin's absence? How do you think John King did as moderator?

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